If you’re a marketer looking to jumpstart your demand generation program, consider this time-honored tactic: try giving your product away.
For a short time, that is.
“You can’t sell online services today without letting people try it first,” says Seth Godin, author of Meatball Sundae: Is Your Marketing Out of Synch? Because customers are both value and risk sensitive, “if you can answer the risk question and you can answer the value question, then you are going to get the sale. One of the best ways to do both of those things is to put in front of people and get them to try it.”
As important as these offers are, it’s equally important to target them appropriately to ensure adoption. David Lewis, president and founder of DemandGen, a marketing automation consultancy headquartered in Danville, CA, advises marketers to pre-qualify trial users, as well as to create a sense of urgency so that the trial customer will be driven to test the product in a real world environment. Lewis also advises companies to implement an effective “nurturing” program to complement the trials, keeping in contact with trial users and being available to answer questions or provide assistance.
With an effective nurturing campaign in place to support free trials, Lewis estimates that companies can expect 70% to 80% of people who sign up for a free trial to actually use the application, and from there conversion rates to actual customers can reach between 20-30%.
The success of companies like Salesforce.com bear this out – in fact, Salesforce promotes its trial-to-conversion ratio as a selling point.
“When you are evaluating the digital body language of a prospect,” Lewis concludes, “signing up for a free trial is one of the strongest indicators of real interest.”